Dr Casey Handmer‎ > ‎

Aviation

In July 2014 I earned my private pilot license. At some point in the future I plan to add aerobatic, glider, tailwheel, and complex aircraft ratings, but for now I just buzz around Southern California in a money-powered rocket. In 2015, I earned my complex/high performance ratings. By July 2017 I had done about 250 hours, mostly in Cessnas. I am currently adding a glider rating. 

Drones
In 2017 I began to design and build my own high performance drones. Version 0 tested some construction theories using 3D printed nodes and carbon fiber struts, and met its demise in a spectacular crash.
Inline image 1
Version 1 is in progress!

Why drones?
Drones are a small resource commitment route into electric flight, particularly focused on high performance short haul transport. Here's the plan.

The goal
Electric flight.

The challenge
Relatively low energy density in batteries, 265Wh/kg. An improvement of roughly a factor of three is necessary.

The hope
Steady, though not indefinite, battery improvement, flexible configurations, mechanical simplicity, motor power density, combustion independence. 

Translation
We may be a decade away from economically competitive subsonic or supersonic electric passenger transport. Beyond breakeven, battery improvements allow continual improvements of range within the same airframe. 

The existing situation
Numerous consumer and professional drones have been developed, adapted for racing, harassing cats, and as a video platform. Platform adaptation for policing or war shows haphazard development. Human transportation also shows development, though mostly in the "flying lawn chair" or "flying car" space, rather than as competition for the Pilatus PC-12 or Boeing 737. 

The development timeline
Human rated commercial aviation technology has a timescale of around a decade, which is similar to the battery specific energy horizon.

The catalyst
Small scale drones can demonstrate and develop engineering expertise in high speed electric flight. Small scale is less efficient, so scaling up improves range. Uses exist in rapid delivery of cameras, packages, or drone capture nets.

My plan
Develop a series of innovative tabletop-scale drones which develop the metric of maximum speed. Must run on rechargeable batteries. Produce a steady stream of documentation to spread ideas. 

Current records
Multicopter (163mph in May 2017): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPpQWIA59Wo
Electric plane (at least 250mph): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BC2KPsKwLpY
Glider (dynamic soaring 517mph): https://vimeo.com/213265400

Stepping stones
0 - Duplicate current speed record (~200mph)
1 - Demonstrate transonic propulsion surfaces (~500mph)
2 - Demonstrate supersonic horizontal flight (>760mph for >5s)
3 - Demonstrate sustained supersonic flight (>1000mph for >60s)
4 - Suborbital flight - accelerate to 4000mph up to 100k feet - nightmare mode

Can you help me? Get in touch!